"Writing lies at the root of our civilization; it is the accumulated memory of humankind."
- Writing: The Story of Alphabets and Scripts by Georges Jean
The evolution of writing is a long and remarkable story. There is evidence of communication by hand that dates back tens of thousands of years. Much of it is in pictures, symbols, or drawings. (Chauvet Cave image at right was painted over 30,000 years ago.)
However, to be labeled a writing system, there must be an agreement that specific marks or signs represent specific thoughts, feelings or things. Imagine the challenge of converting sounds and gestures into lines and shapes that groups of people would understand to have the same meaning.
One of the earliest known writing systems is cuneiform, which began in the 3rd millenium (3000 BCE) in ancient Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq.
Hieroglyphs are stylized pictures of an object representing a word, syllable, or sound as found, for one example, in the writing of ancient Egypt. The term hieroglyph is comprised of two words meaning holy and to engrave and has been described as the writing of, and a gift from, the gods. Egyptian hieroglyphs include up to seven thousand signs. It is easy to see how the ability to write was considered a great source of power. In use from when
Handwriting has come a long way in the last few thousand years and we still have much to learn about its history, the people who use it, and its interpretation. Today, there is the ease and popularity of computers, texting, and email, yet there is still a need to write notes, jot down instructions or directions, address an envelope, sign your name, and maybe send a letter or greeting card to a friend. For more, read Handwriting & Computers.
That's why handwriting is still an important part of our culture, even if it is being used less. Your handwriting is unique. Just like whale tails and fingerprints, your handwriting has no exact match on the planet. Studies are revealing some important and positive long term effects, such as:
Language appreciation and understanding
Exercises the brain
Increased eye-hand coordination
Impulse control and self-discipline
Helps to reflect, compose, and organize our thoughts
Confidence, better test results
Use any time, any where
Communication is one of the most important skills we can learn. Perhaps our comfort and confidence in communicating with others begins at this basic level – knowing our written language well, from how to shape it's letters, numbers, and symbols to instant recognition in its many forms (print, cursive, typewritten). Although, we may have much in common, each of us experiences life in ways that are unique to us individually; which is why there will always be a need for a variety of communication tools. Whether it's through the arts, science, movement, speech or the written word our expression of thoughts and ideas can find a vehicle that is most comfortable and well-suited to our individual style.
We may prefer to communicate only electronically but, having the ability to write by hand gives us the power to also express our thoughts with a pen, pencil, crayon, a brush, a mud streaked window, or a stick in the sand – and in a style that is uniquely our own.